The number of pothole-related faults attended by RAC patrols in the second quarter of this year increased by almost a third (31%) compared to the same period in 2016.
Released today, the figures reveal that between April and June RAC patrols helped 3,565 motorists whose vehicles had suffered issues that could be largely attributable to poor road surfaces, including broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers or distorted wheels.
This is in contrast to the 2,725 similar breakdowns in the same three months of 2016.
The RAC responded to the figures by reiterating calls for a ring-fenced funding block for local roads.
There is a customary decline in the number of these faults from the first three months of the year to the second, as the weather improves and more road resurfacing is carried out.
This year that decline was greater than usual at 46% (6,559 in Q1 to 3,565 in Q2). This is compared to the 32% decrease in 2016 (4,026 Q1 to 2,725 in Q2). However the number of pothole related breakdowns in the first quarter of this year was ‘particularly high’, RAC chief engineer David Bizley said.
He added: ‘After a period of steady improvement, it is disappointing to see an unwelcome rise in the number of pothole-related breakdowns RAC patrols dealt with in the second three months of the year when compared to the same period in 2016.
‘The most worrying aspect, however, is the fact that this year’s weather has been so much milder and drier than in the equivalent six months last year and, for this reason, we should have expected the numbers for the second quarter to be lower.
‘A short-term reversal in the fragile improvement in surface quality of the UK’s roads may not seem much to be concerned about but we fear it would only take a spell of very cold or wet weather for the improvements of the last year or two to evaporate and for the nation to find itself in a situation when we would once again be seeking emergency funding from Government to address the worst affected roads.’
He added that local roads have been ‘neglected’ compared with the funding for the strategic road network, ‘and this is why we are still calling on the Government to recognise their national significance and to mirror their approach to major roads and ring-fence a dedicated fund for this purpose’.
The RAC Pothole Index is a 12-month rolling average of pothole-related breakdowns corrected to remove unrelated longer term effects of weather and improving vehicle reliability. It uses a complex equation comparing current pothole-related breakdown figures with historic baseline data.
The current Index also indicates a worsening picture after five successive quarters of improvement.
As of the second quarter of 2017 the index stands at 2.2, having begun at a base of 1.0 in 2006. This is an increase on the first quarter of the year when it stood at 2.08 – the lowest figure recorded since Q4 2008 – and the first increase seen since the beginning of 2016.
However overall road conditions are still vastly better than the high index point of 3.5 in January to March 2010.